Storify, Stalkers and Terms of Service

‘Whatever’ is the blog of famous science fiction writer John Scalzi, and he usually posts about books, and writing related topics. Today, however, he’s talking about online stalking and social media.

Apparently certain people are using the Storify platform to collect everything a victim [female] writes online in order to make that victim feel ‘watched’ and threatened.

I’ve never used Storify so I cannot comment on whether its CEO is justified in his lack of action or not. I’m not even sure what I think of the problem as a whole. Nonetheless, I do know that if you google your own name, you will be amazed, and maybe a little shocked to learn that every single thing you post, or write in a comment, is there for the taking.

I know I would hate to feel that I was the target of a cyberstalker. Please read the article, and in particular the comments, because I think this is the new frontier we all have to come to terms with.



Posting (with permission) an e-mail I got from an occasional Whatever commenter, because this seems something worth pointing people’s attention to. For reasons that will become clear, I’m trimming out the person’s name, although I know who it is and I find them to be credible.

At the time of the posting here, the character in question has his Twitter account suspended, but his Storify account is still up and running. And, yup, it’s exactly as it’s described.

For my part, it seems pretty clear that Storify can deal with this dude, based on its own Terms of Service. The question is whether it will, and if not, why not.

What follows is this person’s e-mail and interpretation of events. I have added in relevant links.


A Twitter and Storify user who goes by the handle “@elevatorGATE” is a well-known cyberstalker of women via social media. His latest…

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

16 responses to “Storify, Stalkers and Terms of Service

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  • metan

    The internets can be a wonderful thing but it also has terrible pitfalls too. 😦 I try to stay as anonymous as possible online but you just never know who is reading about you do you?


    • acflory

      Nope. I used to think the only things that would show up would be things I had deliberately written – like posts. But if you have the patience to wade through pages of stuff, you’ll find every comment you’ve ever made as well.

      Definitely no privacy on the net.


      • metan

        Another reason to avoid Face Blah and Twitter for me, and why I don’t post pictures of the Squids (unless they are unidentifiable).
        The school sends out a form each year asking for permission to use images of them online. I always ask the kids before filling it out and they invariably say no, just as well, because I think I would just fill it out in the negative anyway!


        • acflory

          I agree with you. Most of the info we place online gets lost in the billions of bits of data out there. BUT. If someone wanted to use that data for some unpleasant purpose it’s not that hard to find either.


  • Candy Korman

    I just shared the link with the instructor from the social media class I took last year. I’m sure it will become a topic for discussion this coming semester.


  • davidprosser

    it’s a scary scenario when the ceo of a group takes the side of a stalker instead of the side of the victims. The right action, and the prudent action in case of public backlash would be to remove this stalker’s Storify and Twitter accounts. I have to say I simply don’t understand the reasoning behind this cyber-stalking.Allowing the actions to continue does nothing for the reputation of the social media concerned.
    xxx Hugs xxx


    • acflory

      I’m not sure what the law is with regard to stalking in the real world, but I assume the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ thing applies. Perhaps something similar applies online as well. I think the silver lining in this nasty incident is that it’s forced public debate on what may be a grey area.


  • EllaDee

    Interesting, and quite scary but an issue inherent to the internet. After doing a Google search and seeing comments and other online output, it’s the reason I use a pseudonym for WordPress, and limit the other. It’s a fact of life for us who have an e-life but there are laws covering approprate usage and behaviour that apply to this area as much as any other. I’ll be interested to see how the Storify thing plays out.


    • acflory

      I agree Ella. I’ve been on the net for a long time and always used a handle, especially in games. Now though, my name is my brand, so I walk a fine line between being honest with readers and exercising reserve when it comes to deeply personal information. Tricky, and kind of scary.


  • Tasha Turner

    I follow another blog that had more info and led to someone now being cyberstalked by the person in question. I also found out that a seeming innocent action I took on twitter today may have brought me to his attention. I can say I’m worried at the moment.

    I use Google search all the time to find stuff I posted on a yahoo writing group in my late 20s. Google also saved me when my website crashed & we didn’t have a backup.

    There is a difference for me with a computer keeping my data and an individual doing so & making sure I know he is doing so & sharing it with his friends while making nasty comments and/or threats.


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